Learn about our fellowship track and how you can apply

Solferino FutureFellows Programme 2021

An innovative professional development program for emerging leaders of the network of the IFRC  

Applications for the FutureFellows 2021 have now closed.


If you missed this opportunity we encourage you to keep in touch via our website (or join our mailing list by writing to [email protected]) to hear about any future engagement opportunities.

If you have applied, we will shortly confirm receipt of your application via email, along with any requests to submit missing information.

The review of your application will be conducted in two rounds. The first round is a standard review by the Solferino Team to make sure the applicants meet the basic requirements outlined in the criteria. Those who go to the second round will be reviewed by a panel (2 National Society Secretary Generals, 1 IFRC Leader, 2 Solferino Team, 1 external). Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified by 5 April.

Successful applicants will require a letter of support from their National Society to confirm their place on the programme. Solferino Academy will be able to provide a template and support to get this endorsement. Thank you to all those who have participated, we received over 200 applications!


The IFRC Solferino Academy exists to help the RCRC network transform to be fit for the challenges of the future. The Academy works through a variety of methods to promote, showcase and instigate new ways of working across the network. We believe that individuals at all levels can be leaders in the necessary evolution of our organisation. This fellowship opportunity focuses specifically on emerging leaders in the RCRC network.


Overall: support the transformation of the RCRC network as described in Strategy 2030 through equipping high potential leaders with the skills and resources to drive change and innovation in their National Societies. We know the challenges on this road will be complex, and the purpose of this fellowship is to identify and support rising stars in National Societies that bring a holistic and value-driven mindset and combine it with the most effective ways to get things done. Ultimately we see strong emerging leaders as the cornerstones of a distributed network, which is one of the main components of Strategy 2030.

The fellowship programme therefore, is both aimed at helping rising stars in the RCRC network to develop their transformation capabilities as well as support the organisation as a whole to evolve as is envisioned in Strategy 2030.

In previous efforts to support individuals to lead transformations from the inside, we learned that leverage in their respective NS to see through the testing of the ideas is critical. This requires an active support role from the National Societies, as well as a willingness to work with the outputs and outcomes generated by the fellowships.

The IFRC Solferino Academy is also separately, developing a senior leadership development track in 2021, and we will create alignment between the networks of emergent and senior leaders. The RCRC will also offer various other leadership programmes in all IFRC languages across the network.

What’s in it for everyone?

Fellows: Fellows will be offered an inclusive, supported safe space in which they can co develop and test solutions to problems alongside their peers in the RCRC network. In addition, the fellowship offers a coaching scheme, access to evolving transformation practice from outside the RCRC network, and an opportunity to engage in international challenges and projects and to learn about innovative approaches being utilised. A Solferino Accreditation is presented upon satisfactory completion of the programme. We also expect that fellows will be able to raise their profile as a result of participation in the programme, both within their National Society and in the wider RCRC network.

National Societies: National Societies will be able to offer high quality/low cost professional development to their staff or volunteers who are high potential emerging leaders, and will get access to new ideas and solutions that they have developed through the fellowship. Also we think NSs will be able to benefit from the horizontal connections between NSs that are facilitated through the fellowship.

The IFRC Solferino Academy: The IFRC Solferino Academy will be able to work with a diverse group of future leaders of the organisation on the most complex challenges, to get more insights to the evolution of amazing leaders of the future, and to foster horizontal connections between rising stars in the RCRC network. As a young and ambitious initiative, the IFRC Solferino Academy will be able to prove its worth to a global network of changemakers.

Application criteria

Please consider applying when you are:

  • Fascinated by how humans and systems can transform
  • Interested in applying innovative thinking and approaches to persistent challenges
  • Passionate about addressing humanitarian challenges and social injustices
  • Ambitious about the future of the RCRC and your leadership role in it
  • Open to being challenged and collaborating with diverse opinions
  • A basic working knowledge of English (other courses in multiple languages will become available soon across the RCRC network)
  • Commitment to social justice and inclusive, intersectional and anti-racist approaches to humanitarian & development work
  • A staff member or volunteer connected to one of the 192 National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies
  • Prepared to spend an average of 8-12 hours/month of remote work between March and November 2021, and possibly a face-to-face workshop in late 2021 (COVID-allowing)

We actively encourage applications from people with marginalised identities.

In our selection we will aim to create a diverse group of FutureFellows that is spread globally across our various National Societies


The FutureFellows programme is formed around five main components as explained below. The fellows will work together on monthly challenges in smaller teams. Solferino Academy will focus on supporting these teams as a whole to thrive through the programme together.

Collective intelligence
Bringing together the various and diverse perspectives from the fellows on your experiences and insights on problems ranging from very local to very global.

Designing and offering a testing ground where fellows can design, prototype and get feedback on transformations.

(Collective) investment
Offering and finding ways to put seed investment and other resources behind promising prototypes

Learning & storytelling
Rethinking ways in which we tell stories about what we’re learning about the present and the future, as a way to mobilise support and change.

Creating a pool of coaches with experience in both personal and professional transformation journeys, as guides for the fellows to build on. Coaches will come from both inside and outside the RCRC.

The learning journey puts fellows in the driving seat to design and test practical solutions to social problems. Throughout the programme they will shift their focus from their individual and team sphere of influence, to organisational and network transformation. The curriculum retains the flexibility to adapt to evolving context, and enables the participants to choose the problems they want to work on.

The programme will have a heavy focus on testing and getting feedback from potential users of the work of the fellows, whether they are neighbours, colleagues or (global) communities. This responds to the S2030 call for working in greater accountability to our communities’ feedback and needs.

Fellows will be organised into small teams that remain in place for the duration of the programme. Teams will become the direct support and challenge circle of the fellows. Each team will be accompanied on their journey by two coaches, who will act as ‘critical friends’ to help the teams and their fellows to realise their highest potential.

In addition, the programme will host a variety of expert speakers that have all gone through personal and professional transformation journeys, from within and outside the organisation, and across public and private sectors. The speakers will share their reflections on the 7 transformations, and offer insights on their experiences with driving change in some of those areas.

Solferino Academy will set up a virtual collaboration platform where the fellows and coaches can work together, share insights and resources in between the plenary parts of the course.

Application process

Interested future fellows can apply to be part of the fellowship in the following way:

Send your application (preferably) here (or by email) before 21 March 2021, including:

  • A short (selfie) video that explains why you want to participate in the FutureFellows programme (max 2 minutes). In this video please describe the opportunity for transformation you see in your National Society.
  • A visual artefact from the future that shows a manifestation of a future world, especially one that you’d like to see (share an image, file, video etc).
  • We will make a shortlist of the received applications. For those shortlisted we would subsequently require a statement of support from your National Society, in which they either:

• Detail the strategic and operational support they will give you to be successful in this fellowship. This should include ways in which they will help you launch prototypes in your organisation, as well as the choice of investment (see below).

• Confirm to commit to the minimum support requirements as following:

– Provide an enabling environment to test ideas developed through the Fellowship

– Include your fellowship in your annual objectives and performance review

– Articulate how ideas and actions generated by this fellowship will help the NS to achieve their strategic goals

  • We will include external reviewers to ensure independence of our selection process.

Cost of participation

We estimate that the price for the fellowship will normally be around €2,500, but as this is the first year the IFRC Solferino Academy will offer scholarships to all participants regardless of your National Society status. In addition to the time you will spend in the fellowship, we will therefore also be seeking your feedback to help us improve the content and form of the programme.

Please note that any travel costs incurred for this fellowship are not automatically covered by the IFRC Solferino Academy. For participants from less resourced National Societies we will be able to offer financial assistance for these costs.


We think that mobilising investment (financial, political, human capital) for new ideas is an important part of realising transformation. Therefore we encourage National Societies to consider the support they can donate to this fellowship.

We especially encourage financial contributions to the fellowship’s financial investment pot. From here, FutureFellows can support the launch of prototypes developed through the programme. The IFRC Solferino Academy will match the incoming investment to the benefit of the Fellowship investment pot.

If you consider, or have more questions about, this option please contact us via [email protected] We will provide opportunities for National Societies to take place on application and review panels.


Solferino Academy will create a pool of coaches from within and outside the RCRC Network to support the fellows through their learning track. These mentors will be leaders with personal and professional experience of transformation. We don’t expect these mentors to have ‘the answers’ to the questions that will undoubtedly come up along the way, but rather help FutureFellows reflect on their options and make decisions on moving forward. This will be a learning experience for the coaches as much as for the fellows. We hope to see accredited fellows taking a place as next year’s coaches.

After (e.g. Alumni)

The alumni will have the opportunity to participate in next iterations of the FutureFellows programs and become coaches. There will be a yearly session where all alumni will be invited to meet each other as well as the current cohort.

Strategy 2030

Strategy 2030 is about change. It is about changing not just what we do, but how we do it, so that we are even better able to save lives, accompany people and support their resilience.

If you are not ready to be a FutureFellow (yet), but want to dedicate some of your time to helping Solferino Academy in driving innovation and transformation in our network, check out our opportunities for volunteering.

Join us